[Answered] With policy and implementation focused on the early years in primary school, it is time to rethink strategy for India’s schoolchildren who have gone past the foundational stage. Discuss

Introduction: Contextual introduction.

Body: Write some policies for early education. Also write some issues with the education of middle school children.

Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Article 45 in Directive Principles of State Policy stated that the government should provide free and compulsory education to all until the age of 14 within 10 years from the commencement of the Constitution. Article 21A made elementary education a fundamental right rather than a directive principle.

Policies for early education:

  • Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan: It was started in 2001, to achieve the Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE).
  • Mid Day Meal: Mid Day Meal Scheme was launched in 1995 with provisions to provide free meal to about 12 crore children studying in primary and upper-primary classes. The objective behind the scheme is to address the hunger and education, improve the nutrient status and increase the attendance and retention rates among the children.
  • Operation Blackboard: The purpose of the scheme is to provide the requisite institutional equipment and educational material for students studying in primary organizations to improve their education.
  • NIPUN Bharat Scheme: To create an enabling environment to ensure universal acquisition of foundational literacy and numeracy, so that every child achieves the desired learning competencies in reading, writing and numeracy by the end of Grade 3, by 2026-27.

Issues with the education of middle school children:

  • ASER evidence suggests that basic learning levels of middle schoolchildren have remained low and stagnant for over a decade. The “value” add of each year of middle school is small.
  • Many children are reaching standard eight without being sufficiently equipped with foundational literacy and numeracy skills.
  • ASER data shows that an “overambitious” curriculum and the linear age-grade organisational structure of Indian schools result in a vast majority of children getting “left behind” early in their school career.
  • In the absence of in-school mechanisms for “catch up”, children fall further and further behind academically. With this comes low motivation to learn and a lack of self-confidence.
  • Academic content transacted in schools implicitly assumes that students are being prepared for college. However, the reality is that a college degree is neither relevant nor possible for most students who finish secondary school.

Much of the country’s efforts in school education today are focused on ensuring strong foundations for children in the early years. But it is critical that we remember that middle schoolchildren also urgently need support for learning recovery and “catch up”.


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